Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, delivered the following keynote address at the 2022 Maritime UK Awards.
Many thanks for that kind introduction and good evening everyone.
It’s a huge pleasure to be back here in Glasgow for the Maritime UK Awards just months after I last visited this wonderful city for the historic COP26 climate change conference, where seaborne trade was a hot topic for discussion.
And where better to celebrate the world-class excellence of the UK’s maritime industry and shine a spotlight on our ambitions for the future than here on the banks of the River Clyde?
This great cradle of shipbuilding innovation is the birthplace of some of the world’s fastest, largest and most iconic vessels.
From the powerful battleships that have spearheaded the Royal Navy down the years – with wonderful names like HMS Colossus, HMS Tiger and HMS Repulse, to luxury ocean liners such as RMS Queen Elizabeth and the QE2 that have showcased British shipbuilding prowess globally, to the thousands of cargo vessels that have connected these islands with far-flung markets overseas and kept the arteries of global trade flowing.
‘Clydeside built’ is shorthand worldwide for precision marine engineering at its very best.
And as the United Kingdom charts a new course for herself as an independent trading nation once again, maritime businesses based here on Clydeside, and our other great maritime hubs across the United Kingdom will be crucial to driving the Global Britain we are building towards as we go full steam ahead into our 21st-century trading successes.
This industry is helping forge new ties for British trade across the oceans as we bring down barriers to global commerce and deliver the benefits of free trade and open markets to every region of the UK, levelling up our country.
And it is providing the steel behind our maritime security in an increasingly uncertain world.
With the Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, built in Roysth playing a vital role in keeping global sea lanes open and safe for British shipping, and indeed this week now both out on operations protecting our friends and allies.
Indeed, before the Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine that same shipyard had won a contract to construct fast missile boats for the Ukrainian navy with £1.7bn of support from our export credits agency UKEF to supply its Arrowhead 140 frigate design to Poland as part of that country’s Miecznik naval programme, working successfully together with Thales UK, MDBA UK and the UK government during the procurement campaign.
These projects are critical as we watch evolving security challenges which the world faces, and remind us that to keep trade flowing and nations’ maritime borders safe, modern ships and their defences are vital.
Our maritime sector is pivotal to our prosperity here at home too - bringing £17 billion into our economy and directly supporting 220,000 British jobs.
We boast world-class excellence in areas such as marine equipment and systems, autonomous vessels and marine science.
As shown by the superb products and services of the companies that have been recognised for their work here this evening.
Excellence from Actisense, CyberOwl and Babcock LGE which are shortlisted for the Maritime UK export award.
The potential for trade-led growth in this sector is huge, with my department predicting new global and civil maritime export opportunities worth hundreds of millions of pounds over the next five years.
Opportunities that I am determined to help British firms harness.
Not least through the free trade agreements we are signing with our global partners.
Deals that we have agreed with 70 countries plus the EU so far, accounting for more than £770bn-worth of UK trade.
Giving British firms freer and fairer access to key global markets, from Japan, to Australia to Singapore - with more in the pipeline.
But as we all know the demands of global trade are changing fast and we must work together to adapt quickly or risk being left stranded in the wake of our competitors.
Nowhere more so than in the transition to zero-carbon shipping – as the race to develop the green vessels of the future speeds up.
Where once we produced the world’s biggest and most powerful vessels, now we must lead the charge in building the greenest and most technologically advanced.
Fuelled by our leading British resources, skills and expertise in this field as we strive to meet the long-term temperature goals set out by the Paris Agreement and support the International Maritime Organization’s target of reducing Green House Gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050.
As we work to build a cleaner, greener, more sustainable maritime trade network that is fit for the world of tomorrow.
This is not just an economic necessity it is an existential one for our planet.
And one of my top priorities as Secretary of State for International Trade.
After all it was here in Glasgow during COP26 where the United Kingdom, alongside our global partners, signed the Clydebank Declaration committing ourselves to establishing at least six zero-emissions, green shipping corridors by the middle of this decade.
We are making progress in this field, with British maritime firms already engaged in creating game-changing green tech solutions.
Innovative companies such as Silverstream Technologies, the British manufacturer of a revolutionary, efficiency-boosting air lubrication system which DIT has supported in exporting to China.
But we know we must go further and faster in harnessing the benefits of this maritime transformation, keeping Britain ahead of the game.
My department is helping unlock this potential through our Green Shipbuilding Export Campaign which covers the full spectrum of maritime technologies, combining the resources of DIT’s civil and defence sales team in identifying and developing green export opportunities worldwide and giving British businesses a competitive advantage through early intelligence and market analysis while promoting this country’s green maritime capabilities to international buyers.
We are currently carrying out detailed scoping exercises across the globe to give us the information we need to corner this market.
Bringing more specialists from across industry on board to help drive progress towards this goal.
We are working to unlock the benefits of maritime trade across the board, built upon the bedrock of our Maritime Trade and Investment fice-year plan, which was developed in close partnership with Maritime UK and aims to increase Britain’s global market share and make this country the destination of choice for maritime investment.
And I am pleased to announce tonight the launch of our new Maritime Capability Campaign Office which will supercharge this work.
As set out in the Board of Trade’s new policy paper on the future of UK maritime trade, this influential new office will sit within my department – bringing together our defence and civil maritime capabilities into a larger single unit as we seek to land a greater share of this crucial global market.
It will build a portfolio of high-quality maritime trading opportunities for British firms to embrace utilising the UK’s key strengths, such as our world-class defence and security export capabilities and our leadership in low carbon technologies
And it will work with the National Shipbuilding Office to develop an innovative and competitive British maritime offer for investors using data-driven analysis to outmanoeuvre our international competitors.
This work will be supported by UKEF whose job it is to ensure that no viable UK export fails through lack of finance, helping British firms of all kinds and all sizes to take their first step into global trade.
Britain’s maritime industry will also be energised by the launch of our refreshed National Shipbuilding Strategy. This refresh aims to spur greater productivity in the UK’s shipyards, strengthen local manufacturers in the supply chain and blaze a trail in technological and environmental innovation.
This includes setting out a 30 Year Cross-Government Shipbuilding Pipeline to give greater long-term clarity on public sector orders, investing more than £200m in a new UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions - UK-SHORE - to help fund green research and innovation and bringing the work of government, devolved administrations, industry and training providers across the UK together under the UK Shipbuilding Skills Taskforce to supply maritime businesses with the qualified workers they need to thrive.
Meanwhile, DIT’s international network of trade advisors is working hard to connect British maritime manufacturers and suppliers with opportunities overseas, helping our firms to navigate sometimes choppy trading waters in lucrative foreign markets and providing them with expert in-country sector and market-specific intelligence.
While our GREAT UK marketing team is helping maritime businesses to showcase their expertise worldwide at major global trade shows such as Asia-Pacific Maritime in Singapore later this month, Nor-shipping in Oslo in April and Posidonia 2022 in Athens in June.
So as we set sail on a new voyage as a sovereign trading nation, for British trade it is vital that our maritime industry is fighting fit to surf the economic waves of the future. We must be strong enough to ride the powerful trading currents of a fast-changing world, which is why we are putting the resources and expertise in place to help British businesses embrace the opportunities that lie ahead and opening the door to trade even wider for firms from across this industry, based here on the Clyde and around our United Kingdom.
As we build a greener, more productive and more technologically advanced British maritime industry - forging a bigger, bolder, brighter trading future for our country that is founded upon our seaborne strength - and cement Britain’s place as one of the great cradles of maritime progress for generations to come.
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